Tag Archive: 3rd way


patriotism & football

Image result for freedom and football

trying to put into words what’s going on in our country & how the actions of another affect us all…not easy; but necessary.

as you probably already know, a marginal quarterback on a bad team made a statement by sitting down during the national anthem of a preseason football game.  for the record, he did this for the previous 2 games & no one noticed.  also noted on the record, this young man’s outspoken nature on issues of social justice are well documented on his twitter & instagram accounts.  [no, i’m not going to give you all the links, you know how the internet works]

for a moment, let’s set aside weather or not we agree with his action & consider his message, his protest.  what is he protesting?  his assertion is that the words we sing & pledge do not represent the nation we currently live in.  and i’m aware of the fact that the songs & the pledges we make call us, as a nation, to an ideal & a better way.  so when this athlete makes a statement by sitting down what he’s saying, through words he’s later give,  [my paraphrase] we’ve missed the mark.  the inequality that exists in this country is real.

freedom defended & lived out

many, many people have said that for him to not stand during the national anthem is a direct disrespect to those that serve to defend & provide that freedom.  so the qb said that his protest in no way is a disrespect to those in the capacity of freedom protectors.  i think it matters what those in that service have said about the protest.  yes, there have been many that have said it’s offensive to them & the job they have.  but there have been many others that have said, openly, that the freedom they protect is the very freedom that allows him to protest.  let’s remember, this was not a violent outburst; it wasn’t even, at the start, verbal; it simply was an objection to the inequity that exists in our country.  additionally, the minute we’re telling someone how they can protest & what they can or cannot say – that’s no longer freedom.

suffering’s voice

there has been some debate about whether or not a wealthy athlete should have anything to say about suffering & those that are on the bottom.  the idea that because he’s rich, & lives in the pretend world of athletics, and doesn’t understand suffering & struggle, so therefore; “go play your games & shut up.”  the approach baffles me.  in the world at large it’s understood that those who have a platform [wealth, fame, power] should, at some level, use it to speak up for those who have not.  in this country especially, the poor, abused & used have no voice.  we don’t listen to someone who’s down & out.  so it is the job of those who have to speak up for those who have not.  this is not just a “good thing to do as a good person”, but this is a biblical principle.  your life isn’t just about you, and at some level; regardless of position & power, you should pour your life into the lives of others.

“he should have done it differently”

this is something that i’ve heard, you probably have too.  “if he was going to protest, he should have used a different method.”  what should have been the “different method”?  and even in choosing a different way to protest or bring attention to the issues, would it have been as effective?  the road to change beings with conversation & that is what’s been happening lately.  i’ve then heard some say things like, “his message is getting lost in all the conversation about the protest itself.”  if we’re too willing to talk about the protest instead of what the protest was about, that’s on us.  we’re the problem then.  that leads me to this…

the biggest problem

this is my opinion & i’ve not heard much else said about this, but here’s what i think is at the root of our nation.

we don’t want to talk about racial tension & inequality.  we’ll debate about who’s right & who’s wrong.  we’ll talk about guns & police brutality.  we’ll even try to talk about the politics that surround this issue.  but when it comes to racial & gender inequality we will talk circles around it, distracting ourselves with peripheral issues that may or may not be contributing factors.  they may just be things that distract & dilute issues at play.  this is not good!

listening in the midst of disagreement

this is the hardest part.  congratulations for making it this far in the article, i suppose that there are some who may have rushed to the comments section or have found the unlike/unfriend buttons by now.  and if you decide to unfriend/unfollow/delete/rail against that’s fine.  you’re entitled to your opinion & subsequent action.  but this last part is really important:

dialogue is hard because it requires us to listen to the other side before we jump in & try to change their opinion.  to truly hear what’s happening behind the words.

the book of james [bible] speaks to this idea strongly:

"everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" [james 2:19]

man this is hard!  to be willing to listen to someone that you are certain you don’t agree with.  our wheels are greased on this because of the political we find ourselves in.  we find ourselves primed & ready to pounce the minute that someone speaks.  we’ve found an issue or two we agree with & that becomes our point to make.  and we’ve stopped listening & instead are looking for a break in the conversation to speak our mind; finish reading, but not digesting the content, instead racing to the keyboard to get our response on-line.

patriotism is a delicate & valuable thing.  & when it’s challenged we want to push back; and we should. but we should also remember that the founding fathers believed in an ideal of what it meant to be a nation; where privilege isn’t dependent upon social status or wealth, where speaking up should not be censored simply because we don’t like the message or method, where dialogue matters & challenges to the system are in our roots.

so listen well, think hard & speak with wisdom…

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love as the highest value?love value [blog]

in the non-church world i think many would agree that this could be the highest value to pursue.  i have a working theory that in the world, in america specifically, we care more about money than we care about anything else; but that’s another conversation.

so love, that makes me feel all warm inside, & YES!! we should pursue love above all else.

but in the church…as followers of Christ…is this the highest value?

shouldn’t the pursuit of Christ be the highest value?

what about worship to God?

how about correct doctrine & theology, that’s certainly most important?

the list could continue for a while…

while it’s true that sound doctrine & theology are important,

and worship of God & all that He is matters greatly,

and we should always find ourselves in pursuit of Jesus Christ in all we do.

if we simply look at the life of Jesus [dangerous] we see that all He does is motivated by & through love.

the woman at the well…

zacchaeus’ redemption…

His walk to the cross…

i think sometimes that we get concerned about making sure the “whole” story of God is told.  and when we focus on something like “love” aren’t we then leaving out some important details about what God wants from your life & mine?

i think that can happen.  which is why it’s so important that the church you’re a part of is teaching the totality of God’s word.  but a beginning point, a motivating factor & daily, life-long pursuit is the love of God & how that impacts the world we live in.

i’m a firm believer that when we, no matter the station of life we’re in, pursue truth we end up at the feet of Jesus.

if we’re looking for a way to justify our lifestyle, we’re not seeking truth.

if we’re trying to find a way to do something that stands in direct opposition to God’s word, we’re not seeking truth.

 

if anything gets in front of our ability to love, we’ve begun the descent into a life, a church, without Jesus at the center.  we’ve decided that our preferences are of greater value than the people Jesus loves…the people that we’re supposed to love.

so love as the highest value, pursue it!

this issue has been brewing in me for a while now…bill-of-rights there are a host of difficult issues at play with the activation of the religious freedom act.

 FEAR

both sides of this issue have fear as a motivating factor.  for those that believe on one should be with-held services because of their sexual orientation through the lens of religious belief the fear could be placed at the feet of the question; “what’s next?  who are they going to bar next?  don’t i have the right to eat & sleep where i want?  isn’t this a free country where no one shall be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their nationality, creed, etc.?” the fear coming from the other side of the issue may sound like this; “if we, who morally object to this lifestyle, are forced to set aside our beliefs what’s next?  what will they take away next, our right to freely gather, our right to worship our God without mistreatment & persecution?” for the follower of Jesus the conversation, for me, begins in the wrong place. Jesus tells His disciples [and us] to not be afraid.  to let go of our fear, to trust in Him.  i kind of wonder, as one who is a follower of Christ, that our fear [Christ-followers] is a simple lack of faith that God has all things under His control.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

-mk.4:40

 something’s that at stake here for us all, is the answer to this question:  will you & i live in fear with what might happen if…? if we get under the surface at all that’s much of this is all about.

“are we headed back to segregation?”

“what will the government make us do next?”

“is this the end of religious freedom?”

“is this the end of my personal freedom?”

WORRY

are you, am i [as a follower of Christ], willing to trust in God that He has it under control? Jesus was very explicit that if we followed Him it would get tough [putting it lightly – He actually said we could die].  but that struggle, difficulty, persecution doesn’t mean that God had let go of the wheel & mayhem is on the loose.  it simply means that the struggle continues & government, no matter it’s form or goals, does not have the last word. “but what about the WORD of God standing tall?  don’t you want that?”   of course i  do.  but judgment is best reserved for God and God alone. accountability for actions is served best in the context of relationship.  picket lines & petitions don’t allow for any relationship & draw lines of one side against another; and i’m just not that interested in doing that.  i’m more interested in the love i show & how it reveals the work of Christ in me, broken & hypocritical as i can be.

 LOVE

as followers of Christ we are continually walking a thin line between demonstrating the love of Christ & doing whatever we want.  i saw a facebook post earlier this week from a friend when he simply reminded us that Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors & those who partied too much.  and in the eyes of the religious elite, ruined His character. Jesus’ time here on earth was spent with those that the “church folk” didn’t want to have anything to do with.  and all Jesus does is spend time with them, offering them a chance to have a relationship with God. a God they may not have known. 1283-Indiana-Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act-Frequently-asked-questions a God they may have felt abandoned by. a God they were not invited to know. we all have a tendency to get our rights all mixed up in all kinds of things.  as a follower of Jesus my rights take a back seat to the real call on my life; to love well.  Jesus tells us that how we love communicates whom we follow, so He says love others in the same way He has loved us.

 there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. the one who fears is not made perfect in love.      

1jn.4:18

 so our worry & fear stand in the direct path of God’s working in the midst of the muddy, murky water of life.

 FINALLY

the whole truth of how this all plays out is yet to be determined, but i have said this for a long time.  i believe that it’ll be settled by the wallet & not much else. we like money more than we like almost anything.  and this decision will have a financial impact on indiana more than the religious or LGBT community. when our wallets are affected we become different people, almost entirely regardless of our beliefs & convictions.  we have placed a great deal of importance on money & the false security it provides…

…but that’s probably a topic for another time.

so in the mean time love well, in the manner that Jesus loved. lay your worry to rest; and don’t let you fear be your spokesperson.  that guy gets enough air time.

so this past sunday, as the Advent Conspiracy continues, we worked around what it means to “give more”; that is, giving presence, your time, your humanity.  and no, we didn’t talk about a piece of the traditional “Christmas story”; instead we focused on an experience & a story from Jesus while at a banquet [luke14].

Jesus correctly reveals that party He’s attending is really a “privileged” party.  it’s for those that can afford to be there, that truly appreciate the finest of things & can invite you to their own “high society” party.  Jesus says this is no way to do things.  then Jesus tells a story of a man hosting a banquet & those that had received invitations simply were too busy to attend.  then those that were not on “the” list were invited & the party raged on.

what’s interesting & note-worthy here is the relational quality of the entire interaction.  He points out the depth of their relationships with one another & says it’s only about how you look to your friends & that’s no way to live.  part of the purpose of your life here on earth is the relationship you have with others & the way you point them toward Jesus.  so He’s inviting them to invest in the lives of others, not just in their own life.

AC_Give_ICON

that’s a hard thing to do during this season especially.  sure we have little trouble giving our spare change to the the bell ringers, and making sure that families that have enough for the season.  but what are we really doing?  are we truly investing in their lives?  or are these things a way to ease our minds with “well, at least i’m doing something.”

i do believe part of the challenge of this time of year is not to just “do a little more”.  i really think the challenge is to become the kind of people that God had created & called us to be.  to step into a place that we can truly give more.  to find new & better ways to give ourselves away.  and not just to our families.  there is a bit of an expectation to giving to our families.  but to give to those that aren’t expecting it.  to give to the ones that are easily overlooked.  give to those that don’t seem to “deserve it” – whatever that means.

so how ’bout it?  can we give more of ourselves away this year?  can we find ways to exemplify the life of Christ but giving more?

AC_Give_WORDmaybe, we’ll see when the bills show up in january.

as we launch into the Christmas season it’s so easy to misplace the object of [what should be] our greatest affection.

AC_Worship_ICONas a Christ-follower it IS something that we say without hesitation, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”  & “You can’t spell Christmas without Christ.”  and all of the rest of our somewhat mis-guided attempts to repaint the Christmas story.

is there a way to repaint the colors of Christmas in ways that will stick & not simply annoy people?

this year as a church we are engaging in the Advent Conspiracy more intentionally.  if you click the picture to the left you’ll be taken to the [AC] web-site & can learn of it’s genesis & it’s intention to return to Jesus as the primary focal point of the season.

this first week has had us focus on that object of our greatest affection – Jesus – and in turn find ourselves launched into full worship.

this past sun. we talked about 3 signs of the coming Messiah:

1 – the angel announcing the “better-good news” over the popular roman message of the “kind-of-good news”.  this announcement is for us as well as the 1st century folk.  the temptation is to believe what we already know & not trust the promise of something new.

2 – the star guiding the wise men to Jesus.  critical point here, God desires to guide us all.  not just when we get our lives figured out & cleaned up.  those wise men weren’t jewish, they didn’t know the God of israel, and yet God is trying to bring them close to Him.

3 – the manger, a highly unlikely place for a baby to be placed; and a king at that.  here we find God meeting us in a place of great venerability.  reminding us that He is with us.

so what should all this do for us?  is it all just a reminder of a story that we’re maybe “too” familiar with?  or is there more?AC_Worship_WORD

these things, and more, should remind us of the great, awesome & powerful nature of God & His desire for us.  and these realizations, reminders & wakening moments should cause great worship to erupt.

so how ’bout it…will you worship fully this season & not let the object of our greatest affection sit in the background?

Snowflake Box detailrecently there’s been this thought that’s been swirling around in my head…it’s really been a continual stream of wondering:

how does the “sending nature” of the gospel show up in your life?

maybe we need to define some things first;

i think, without question, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has, at it’s root, a sending quality to it. consider the season we’re launching into right now.

Jesus comes to earth.  He leaves heaven to join us here.  He’s sent here to do what we cannot –

SAVE US.

so in simple terms; do we believe that we are engaging that “called out” &” sending” thing that happens in the bible repeatedly?

most of us, as Christ-followers would immediately say “well, yes. i do believe that we’ve called into that kind of life.”

but here are, i think, the most important questions:

do we live like that?
do we raise our families like that?
do we work at our jobs with this in mind?
do we attend churches that speak this kind of language?

if we look at these questions & there is a little bit of guilt or heaviness that shows up,

if we want to run from this page,

if God is waking some things up inside you,

may that same God, the one who sent His Son, the One we celebrate & try hard not to forget & bypass;

may that God speak into this season & your celebrations.  may He remind you of the call He has for your life & the places He is inviting you to go.

wonderful article on the call to unity through students we may never meet.

“We Are All Rwandans” by Christopher Heuertz.

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Redknee-deep in the Christmas season, plans coming together, gifts being purchased & shipped; Christmas songs seemingly in every store.  i was in a store just the other day & there were 2 versions of songs i thought i knew but the tempo was all wrong & much too cheery for those particular songs.

oh wait, did i just say that something new was not so good, and i preferred the old??

…oh no!

SUBJECT CHANGE:

this season, i am again reminded about the 1st century conditions & climate of the world Jesus is born into; dirty, corrupt, loads of people in need, the gap between the “have’s & have-not’s” growing…anything sound familiar?

just the other night someone said, as we were having this very conversation about gifts & giving, that we tend to walk around with our yard stick &  measure up the lives or gifts of others based on our thoughts & presuppositions [our yard stick].  this is fraught with all kinds of problems from how much we spend [gifts] all the way down to how much we think we need a savior.

there is a growing trend, movement of people that are doing their best, in their corner of the world to return Christmas to Christ.  everything from give relational gifts, to reach into dark places & being Christ to some people.  just a brilliant approach to what we do with this season.

there can be a struggle in figuring out how to do this.  we’ve been so steeped in what Christmas has looked like that we’ve all drunk the kool-aid & simply don’t see a way out.

advent conspiracy has some wonderful ways to make the season memorable without going further into debt or simply over-spending.  on the right @ the bottom of their home page is the [AC calendar].  download the PDF & there you’ll find QR codes for every day of december.

sidebar…i don’t think it’s ok to say, “well, if i have it, isn’t it ok to spend it?”  the answer is “NO!, it’s not ok.”  i don’t believe that Jesus was sent so that we could, through our hard work & self-driven effort, have a great life.

the download from advent conspiracy, with QR codes, is about raising our awareness as Christ-followers.  i truly believe that the way the world changes is connected to our sense of compassion for those in need & the way God uses that compassion to move us into action.

so come on, download the PDF, print the poster, hang it in your house/office, and use your smart phone for something more than facebook & pintrest.  [not that those things are bad]

in the words of advent conspiracy: let’s find ways to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all

something interesting that has come to the surface as i’ve been working on/prep-ing & walking through the current series presidential JESUS is Jesus’ encounter with the centurion guard in matthew 8.

this has loads of political undertones!  consider the following:

the romans have taken over “the promised land” & the jews are now living in an occupied state.  for any rabbi, including Jesus, to have contact with & bring about an act of mercy; healing a sick daughter, would have brought raised some scrutiny & criticism,

“what in the world is He doing?!  doesn’t He realize that guy’s the enemy?!”

but everything that Jesus is doing in the surrounding passages connects to a larger issue in the activity of Jesus.  it would have been standard procedure to ignore or even curse the roman soldier [after all, He does that to a bush that’s not doing what it’s supposed to].

“let the roman’s daughter die!”

Jesus is talking about a 3rd way to live in a world that is corrupt & broken & ruled by corrupt & broken men & women.  this 3rd way of living revolves around matthew 5:38-40.

“don’t resist an evil person, give your coat, walk the 2nd mile…”

this move is, as Jesus helps the roman centurion, akin to a u.s. soldier being given hospitality from an iraqi during the hottest parts of the battle in iraq.  pretty interesting in how Jesus deals with this conversation & then what it says to us as we deal with the political climate of this country.

so a good question rises to the surface; what is our response to political undertakings, decisions, leaders & the rest that trickles down to us?

is our action that of resisting with all our might?

true, there are plenty of times & places that rebellion is the right action.  but i also believe that those times of grabbing the pitchforks & fire are very limited.

is our political activity one that mirrors the might & veracity of the ones we oppose?

Jesus & the kingdom He spoke of, is one that doesn’t force it’s way in the front door.  it’s one that doesn’t use the might & power at His disposal.  instead it’s one that is a bit more quiet, comes in the back door & is a bit more subtle.

and i think we’re called to a similar way of fighting the powers that be…